My sister: "Is that a bear with a backpack?"
Me: "Yep." (Kazooie pops her head out)
My sister: "Holy crap, there's a bird in there?!"
My sister: "BEST. GAME. EVER."
Anyone who looks at my blog knows that Banjo Tooie is my favorite game ever. I can respect people who like the first more, but you can't say that the second isn't a hell of a lot of fun to play. This is mostly true because of the setting. The world is so odd and... blatantly sexual with such memorable characters. Bottles, Mumbo Jumbo, Grunty, Humba Wumba, and all the little supporting characters along the way are just so much fun! Tell me, when was the last time you saw a world like this in an FPS, RPG, beat-em-up, etc. That was rhetorical, I'm sure you guys can name hundreds.
My point is in addition to the inherently fun gameplay of platformers, I am in love with their overall variety.
Let's for a moment, look at some of the games on my top 20 list. In Tomba you're a kid with pink hair fighting pigs to get his grampa's bracelet. In Psychonauts you jump in people's heads to become the ultimate psychic soldier. Chibi Robo has you trying to make everyone in the Sanderson family (plus their toys) happy by cleaning... and battling spydorz. Spyro 2 puts you, a dragon, at war with a magic Oompa Loompa.
Now think about this. FPS games normally put you behind the eyes of a space marine in "an epic battle", or so says the back of the case. RPG's tend to have you dispelling an ancient evil as some poor city boy or castle knight. What is it about those floating platforms that give the games such variety? I don't know but I think a lesson that FPS's especially can learn is that they don't have to all be faux-realistic.
Of course, there's a difference between 2D platformers and 3D platformers. Mario, Megaman, and Metroid are all based on going from area to area just to get through the game. They can have a large amount of short levels or a few challenging levels. Mario and Donkey Kong Country fit into that first category. Their levels are theme-based around whatever "world" you are in. Megaman and Metroid, though technically shooter-platformers, belong to the second group. You are rewarded for strategically planning which areas to investigate in what order. 3D platformers put you in a bunch of memorable levels where you do missions to get special items to help you progress through the story. And there you go, that's variety in the gameplay too!
It may sound like after awhile this structure would become tired out, but I have yet to play two missions that are the exact same in any two games. In Conker's Bad Fur Day you get a bee and a flower to basically fuck so that she'll let you jump on her boobs and get the money in the cave above. In Rocket Robot on Wheels you build a roller coaster that will take you through numbers in a specific order to get a ticket. You gotta give these games props for their originality.
And, if done well, a platformer will effectively balance fighting, puzzle solving, and of course platforming. So if there's a lesson all developers can learn from dem floating platforms, it's a lesson of variety, originality, and balance.
So platformers are the greatest genre of videogames ever. Then again, that's just my bias zomgz!!!1
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